Yaacov Agam (1928)
Sculpture, guilded brass.
Base 25,2 x 16,2 x 5,5 cm.
Total height 40,5 cm
Signed on base: "Agam"
Provenance: acquired from the artist; private collection.
Yaacov Agam, as the son of an Orthodox Rabbi, has been influenced by the study of the “Kabbala.”
The Hebrew word for “life” is “chai.” The word chai is composed of two letters (two numbers) which add up to the number “18.” So in “life” we find a factor of “9.” Now “9” is also a “magical” number. Perhaps you’ve noticed that for each factor of 9: 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90… when the numbers are added together equal 9 (18…1 + 8 = 9, etc.). This continues: 108, 117, 126, 135, 144, etc.
As Agam considers his works of art to be “visual prayers” or creations which each reflect upon the metaphysical, he chooses to incorporate factors of 9 into each work to “resonate” this purpose.
Agam incorporates his Kabbalistic beliefs directly into the physicality (form) of the art he creates.
He has created a body of work in which the viewer may participate in a changing work of art either by manual transformation of the work or by physically passing by the work and viewing the image change at various angles.
As a kinetic artist Agam pioneered a new art form, which stresses change and movement. He studied under the Bauhaus’ color-theoretician Johannes Itten and then rejected traditional static concepts of painting and sculpture. He has enjoyed great public success since his first one-person show in Paris in 1953 and has become one of the most influential artists of modern times.
Agam works in a variety of media, including painting in two and three-dimensions, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, stained glass, serigraphy, lithography, etching, and combinations of media. His creation of the “Agamograph,” a multiple series of images, viewed through a lenticular lens, which creates change at every angle viewed, has allowed his unique concept to be appreciated by collectors the world over. Agam also writes extensively about his work, and has had several books published on his imagery, concepts, and exhibitions including, Agam, by Frank Popper, published by Harry Abrams.
For the Elysee Palace in Paris, with the request of President Georges Pompidou Agam created in 1972 a whole environmental of the Salon with the walls covered with polymorphic murals of changing images a kinetic ceiling, moving transparent coloured doors and a kinetic carpet on which he placed a sculpture. It embraces viewers: they are no longer looking at a framed, fixed scene, but rather arc moving within an artistic space which changes constantly according to their shifting position and point of view. Similar attempt was made for the concert hall, Forum Leverkusen in Germany in 1970.
His works are placed in many public places including "Super Lines Volumes" at the Pare Floral in Paris (1971), "Communication: "Night and Day" at the AT&T building in New York (1974) and his murals "Peace" and "Life" arc installed at the Parliament of Europe in Strasbourg (1977) and "Communication x 9" on the Michigan Avenue in Chicago (1983).
Agam created many environmental sculptures, including "Hundred Gates" in the garden of the residence of the President of Israel in Jerusalem, "3 x 3 Interplay" installed at the Julliard School of Music at the Lincoln Center and "Wings of the Heart" at J. F. Kennedy airport in New York. In 1984 he made a sculpture "Beating Heart" for the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. In 1988 he created a transparent torah ark for the Hebrew Union College in New York, and monumental multidimensional sculpture at the Crystal Palace Hotel in Nassau, Bahamas. His best known pieces include the fountains at La Défense in Paris (1975) and the fire-water fountain in Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv (1986) which streams water, fire, and music - elements of flux and life that cannot be static - as its coloured elements rotate in this multidimensional monumental work.
His visual education method and non-verbal educational system, meant to increase the creative and intellectual abilities of the children by the usage of visual alphabet as a mother tongue, is implemented in pre-schools and kindergartens in Israel. In 1996, Agam was awarded the Jan Amos Comenius Medal 1996 from the UNESCO "for having devised a particularly effective method of visual teaching for children."
Agam has delivered lectures concerning his theories and experiments at many art schools, conventions, universities and museums, and during the year of 1968 he was a guest-lecturer at Harvard University, where he conducted a seminar and course "Advanced Exploration in Visual Communication".
International recognition has been widespread: Prize for Artistic Research at the Sao Paolo Biennale (1963), Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres (1974), Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy, Tel Aviv University (1975), Medal of the Council of Europe (1977), Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres (1985), Sandberg Prize from the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (1985), Palette d'Or at the International Festival at Cagnes-sur Mer (1985), and the Grand Prize at the First International Biennale in Nagoya, Japan, ARTECH '89 (1989).
He has participated in shows all over the world and has had many one-man exhibitions, including the retrospective exhibition held at the Musee National d'art Modeme in Paris (1972), which was then shown at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Stadtische Kunsthalle in Dusseldorf, and Tel Aviv Museum. He had a large one-man exhibition at the Museum of Pontoise (1975), the Palm Spring Desert Museum, California, on an occasion of the inauguration of the museum (1976), the Museum of Art Birmingham, Alabama (1976), the Museo de Arte Modemo, Mexico (1976), the National Museum of Art, Cape Town, South Africa (1977). Another large-scale retrospective exhibit was held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (1980). Further retrospective exhibitions were held at the lsetan Museum in Tokyo, Daimaru Museum in Osaka and Kawasaki City Museum in Japan (1989), and at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires Argentina (1996).
Agam has also had many one-man shows in art galleries since 1953. His works are held in numerous private and museum collections.